Ghosts of the Cross Timbers Alternate Routes

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Routes, Maps and Descriptions

Visit our Comancheria map to explore the geography and history of the region.

First Line of Forts Map

The Cross Timbers hold the center of the Southern Plains from just south of Fort Smith, Arkansas to the Colorado Hill Country in Central Texas. The rivers drain east from the Rocky Mountains leaving rugged outcrops of rock. The landscape is studded with timbers whose roots retard erosion, and branches start crossing at shin level, providing excellent protection for small game and hindering the movement of larger things.

First Line of Forts Map

My favorite drive through these woods is a very long day trip (yellow route) and roughly follows the military road built to link Fort Worth to Fort Belknap. I fully utilize the landscape with little concern for driving time (way over 6 hours).

Route Overview

If time matters, Hwy. 199, the old Jacksboro Highway, is a good, short alternative and you can catch Weatherford on the way back to Fort Worth.You'll do the same if you're taking the green route (114) at the north exit of the airport. This is the approach I recommend.

If you are driving from the northeast, you can enter the Cross Timbers at Gainesville and take the beautiful backroads to Decatur or continue south on I-35 and take 380 west in Denton.

Seeing Through the Wind

We will visit Fort Richardson, the Brazos Valley and Fort Belknap on the northern end of its namesake mountain range. If you have time for an overnight trip you could continue west following the stage line on the Texas Forts Trail. I'm betting you'll feel an eerie vulnerability as you rise upon the Plains. Lone peaks on the horizon draw your attention today as they did in that dangerous time. Even now, a flash of light or a faint report makes the skin prickle and eyes keep vigilant watch on the horizon. Then, one searched for war parties perched on distant heights, now only for a rising thunderhead. Still, long after the alert, a feeling of pending, fast-closing violence lingers in the air.

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